Journal Article

Stem growth habit affects leaf morphology and gas exchange traits in soybean

Yu Tanaka and Tatsuhiko Shiraiwa

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 104, issue 7, pages 1293-1299
Published in print December 2009 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online September 2009 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Stem growth habit affects leaf morphology and gas exchange traits in soybean

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Backgrounds and Aims

The stem growth habit, determinate or indeterminate, of soybean, Glycine max, varieties affects various plant morphological and developmental traits. The objective of this study is to identify the effect of stem growth habit in soybean on the stomatal conductance of single leaves in relation to their leaf morphology in order to better understand the ecological and agronomic significance of this plant trait.


The stomatal conductance of leaves on the main stem was measured periodically under favourable field conditions to evaluate gmax, defined as the maximum stomatal conductance at full leaf expansion, for four varieties of soybean and their respective determinate or indeterminate near isogenic lines (NILs). Leaf morphological traits including stomatal density, guard cell length and vein density were also measured.

Key Results

The value of gmax ranged from 0·383 to 0·754 mol H2O m−2 s−1 across all the genotypes for both years. For the four pairs of varieties, the indeterminate lines exhibited significantly greater gmax, stomatal density, numbers of epidermal cells per unit area and total vein length per unit area than their respective determinate NILs in both years. The guard cell length, leaf mass per area and single leaf size all tended to be greater in the determinate types. The variation of gmax across genotypes and years was well explained by the product of stomatal density and guard cell length (r = 0·86, P < 0·01).


The indeterminate stem growth habit resulted in a greater maximum stomatal conductance for soybean than the determinate habit, and this was attributed to the differences in leaf structure. This raises the further hypothesis that the difference in stem growth habit results in different water use characteristics of soybean plants in the field. Stomatal conductance under favourable conditions can be modified by leaf morphological traits.

Keywords: Soybean; Glycine max; stem growth habit; stomatal conductance; stomatal density; guard cell length; near isogenic lines

Journal Article.  4961 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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